Jewish Cycle[ edit ] Ernest Bloch with children Suzanne , Ivan and Lucienne The Cycle refers to a series of compositions by Bloch in which he was trying to find his musical identity. In addition, he also states that sometimes the orchestra reflects the thoughts of Solomon while the solo cello expresses his words. Schelomo is scored for three flutes, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets in Bb, bass clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns in F, three trumpets in C, three trombones, tuba, timpani, tambourine, snare-drum, bass-drum, cymbals, tam-tam, celesta, two harps, violins at least twelve players , violas at least ten , cellos at least six , basses at least four. Both orchestra and cello soloist introduce and develop the main thematic material heard throughout the composition. There are six essential thematic ideas introduced in this section. The theme is then passed to the bassoon.

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Third Section: slow tempo Development and Recapitulation The first section of the Rhapsody opens with a lengthy cello cadenza, which represents the voice of Solomon himself. According to Bloch, it is as though ". Schelomo himself were telling us what has led him to his sad conclusions. The first section Example 1a is a melismatic lament lasting five bars accompanied by sparsely orchestrated descending chords moving in parallel motion with the solo cello.

Following this is another cello cadenza Example 1c , this one unaccompanied, beginning in the low register, and containing several dramatic pauses before finally climbing out of the depths of the low range by means of a sequence of triplets that ascends the distance of an octave with each statement.

The passage reaches a high point on a D, three octaves above where it begins, and then falls back down in anguish; the final statement of the triplet sequential figure being one of utter despair and hopelessness. The full orchestra enters at the andante moderato following the cello cadenza with themes that have just been presented. The cello takes up this theme and alters it considerably against a tambourine figure that foreshadows the theme from the second major section of the rhapsody.

The woodwinds then take up Theme One in parallel fourths while the strings adopt the rhythmic tambourine figure. It is a kind of organum-passages of parallel octaves containing the bare fifth and fourth, which Bloch often adapts in his works either as an integral part of thematic material or its development, or as accompanying counterpoint. In this section he uses it in both respects, with the main theme in the woodwinds, and accompanimental figures in the strings, harp and flutes also using open fifths.

Bloch then takes the melodic material presented thus far and breaks it into smaller and smaller units and develops it, played by sections of the orchestra against rhapsodic passages of scales and arpeggiated figures in the solo cello.

The orchestra answers the increasingly emphatic cello with a thickly orchestrated statement of the viola melody from the beginning of the andante moderato which features parallel fourths, flourishing scalar passages, col legno effects in the strings, diminishing note values for emphasis, and bold brass statements. The agitated orchestra calms again as the cello ascends out of the din to restate the opening cadenza of the rhapsody in an altered form against a sparse string accompaniment.

Other instruments join in with fragments of the various themes as the cello continues and increases in volume and tempo. All this activity comes to a dramatic halt with the cello freely making an impassioned plea against the shimmering tremolo of the strings and flutes, culminating in yet another cadenza-like passage which ends with a dramatic upward leap of a minor ninth followed by a two octave downward jump to a fermata, where the intensity is finally allowed to relax.

The texture starts thinly with a sparse viola accompaniment, and gradually begins to thicken as more and more instruments join in and add intensity to the increasing tempo.

The cello finishes with a statement of the second part of Theme One Example 1b as the orchestra takes over, bringing the music to a wild climax of complex layerings of themes, rhythmic figures, and exotic orchestration. There are fanfares of parallel fifths, octave doublings, decreasing note values on repeated material, and changing meters and tempi. This section ends with a dramatic statement of the material from the last cello cadenza by flutes, oboe, clarinet, and violins, supported by a powerful unison accompaniment in the low winds, low brass and low strings, and pulsating sixteenth notes in the horns.

Particularly interesting is a line of ascending quarter notes in parallel diminished seventh chords by the low winds, brass and strings, during the climactic statement of the passage. The orchestral climax finishes with four bars of parallel fifths leading into four bars that are marked Quasi una Cadenza ma in tempo , which are a wild collage of thirty-second note and sixteenth note flourishes.

This orchestra cadenza leads directly into yet another solo cello cadenza, this one being restatement of the cello cadenza material from Example 1c, which now provides the bridge to the second section of the rhapsody.

This theme is also the only genuine Jewish melody used in the rhapsody. Immediately following the oboe, the cello repeats the second cadenza of Theme One Example 1b , and at the same time, Theme Two is played against it in parallel fourths as a counter melody in the woodwinds.

After the cello states this theme, which is quite agitated and played a step lower than that of the oboe, it embarks upon a lengthy restatement of the opening cadenza theme 1a. This section is remarkable in that the orchestra develops the rhythmic second theme as if preparing for war, while the voice of Solomon freely laments over the top of all that is happening. The cello writing is rhythmically indefinite, often notated with eighth note quintuplets against the driving rhythms below.

The orchestra only grows in intensity, with the low strings and low winds even bringing in material from the last section of the opening cadenza Theme 1c.

The cello continues its empathic restatement of Theme One, building to a tremendous climax, but it is in vain and the frantic sound of the solo instrument is overpowered by the ever increasing sound and texture of the orchestra.

The second orchestral climax of the rhapsody follows, this one characterized by a complex layering of all the motivic fragments of both main themes. The strings, with the exception of the contrabass, along with the flute keep the music driving forward and intensifying by furiously pounding out Theme 1b, rising chromatically one half step each half measure.

Along with this, the brass and contrabasses cry out the second portion of theme two. The music builds to a high point only to come crashing downward using the melismatic sixteenth and thirty-second note passage from the opening cadenza.

However, just when one thinks the music will start to calm down, the winds enter with the piercing second theme and stir things up yet again. Once more, Bloch layers the second theme with Theme 1c, building over three bars until the entire orchestra unifies in one massive statement of the last part of Theme 1c. Only now do things finally begin to calm, as the orchestration thins out and the two themes alternate in the transition to part three of the rhapsody.

The third part of the composition is marked andante moderato and does not employ any new thematic material. However, it does cast a new light on the previously introduced material.

From the outset, there is a remnant of the martial second theme, now played softly by timpani underneath a tremolo and open fifths in the strings.

The solo cello writing in this section is extremely somber and it is here that Bloch employs a single quarter tone in his writing: The lament of the cello is continued until it sinks into a mood of hopelessness on a low C fermata and finally comes to rest, dejectedly, on a low D. The orchestra enters peacefully with a shimmering sixteenth-note accompaniment supporting a dolce statement of the melody from the first section that seems to draw the lamenting Solomon out of his hopeless state into a more dreamlike world.

The second theme can still be heard in the distance in the oboe, but overall there is an air of peace. The cello seems to be off in its own private world, dreaming of better things as it ascends into the stratosphere of its range in an irregular rhythm. This dreamlike state does not last for long, as the cello once more falls nearly three octaves and is brought back to earth and reality.

After several episodes recalling the previous themes, the final orchestral climax is reached. This one is much simpler in texture, but otherwise still on a grand scale. But the subject required it. While he employed elements that reached beyond traditional practices of the time-parallel voicing, unresolved dissonances, exotic scales and intervals, he did so with the greatest concern for the musical results, and only after first mastering the classical approach.

However, Bloch even in his great Hebraic Rhapsody, still employs elements of classical sonata form with its contrasting first and second subjects, developmental sections, recapitulation, and coda.

One writer commented regarding Schelomo, " Schelomo is a magnificent rhapsody, yet one very real reason for its being so is that its unusual structure is most rigidly controlled. Hardly a bar could be lifted from it without seriously damaging the form Thus it will be seen that the romantic element in Bloch has always been contained by the strong discipline of classical craftsmanship. All this is in us, all this is in me, and it is the better part of me.

It is all that I endeavor to hear in myself and to transcribe in my music. Footnotes [1] Ernest Bloch: Biography and Comment. Mary Morgan Company, New York: Bloch Publishing Company, Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra Program Notes. October May Direct correspondence to the appropriate ICS Staff.


Schelomo, B.39 (Bloch, Ernest)



Schelomo (Ernest Bloch)






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